Good old Wikipedia always helps me out when I want to share a recipe but don’t really know the entire story behind the dish. Not that it is always important but it can’t hurt to know what’s “behind” the actual dish, especially when its not originating from my country and I don’t have any background. So I saw this dessert – Eton Mess – in a couple of magazines and always liked the idea of “throwing” together some dessert ingredients and any dessert with th word mess in it will work perfectly for me because I am a messy cook.
Eton Mess according to Wikipedia is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue, and cream, which is traditionally served at Eton College‘s annual cricket game against the pupils of Harrow School. A recent myth is that Eton mess was first created when a meringue dessert was accidentally crushed by a dog while travelling to picnic at Eton College, but what could be salvaged was served as a crushed meringue with strawberries and cream.
I adapted the recipe from Ashley Rodriguez who writes the blog “Not Without Salt” and like the recipe for its “Northwestern” flair of using dried cherries and chocolate.
Lately I have a craving for cinnamon and so I altered the recipe a little bit and instead of soaking the cherries in white wine I soaked them in mulled red wine and instead of plain whipped cream I used cinnamon whipped cream. This for sure is more a “Christmas dessert” as it has a sweet and rich flavor that comes from the soaked cherries and the mulling spices. For summer I would definitely use fresh strawberries to lighten up the dessert, but don’t get me wrong, this dessert is incredibly fulfilling, looks and tastes very festive!
Eton Mess – adapted from Not Without Salt
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- 1 bag of mulling spices
¼ cup sugar
1 cup red wine
adapted from marthastewart.com
- ½ cup egg whites (from about 4 large eggs)
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- Heavy Whipping cream
- Cinnamon Sugar
- Good quality chocolate
- Combine everything in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Over low heat simmer until the wine is reduced down and is nearly like syrup. Let cool completely.Cherries can be made one week in advance. Cover well and store in the fridge.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl over a medium size pot filled with simmering water. Whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm.
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer. Add the cream of tartar. Start the mixer on low then gradually increase to high. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks appear – about 10 minutes. Add salt and mix.
- Pipe the meringue on to parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes on 275 degrees. Give the Meringue a soft push and see if its set after 30 minutes. Ashley baked her snowflakes for 1 hour but that was too long for my meringue and made it too dark, so I reduce the baking time to 30 minutes and that was perfect. Of course that all depends on how big and thick you make your meringues. The Meringue batter will make way more Meringue than you will need for the Eton Mess, so if you like just pipe some fun winter patterns (Ashley piped snowflakes which look really cute and you can dip them in chocolate or top them with crushed candy canes and give them as a hostess gift). Meringues can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks. If they get soft you can redry in the oven.
Assembling the Mess:
- 2 cups whipped cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
- 1 cup meringue crumbles
- 1 cup chocolate, roughly chopped (I like a mix of shavings and big chunks)
- Stewed cherries (recipe above)
Traditionally Eton Mess is just that – a mess. All the components are combined then spooned into a serving dish. I liked Ashleys idea of layering it like a Trifle (first cream, then meringue crumbles, then a few cherries, chocolate chunks and repeat).
All the components can be made in advance but its recommended to assemble the dessert just before serving as the meringue will get soft as it sits.